Only two men have ever scored a Twenty20 hundred for England but after hitting form in India, Jason Roy has set his sights on joining the club.
Alex Hales was the first man to reach the three-figure milestone, making a thrilling 116 not out in a World Cup clash against Sri Lanka in 2014, but there has been only one further century in the seven years that followed.
That was scored by Dawid Malan against New Zealand in 2019, with the Yorkshire batsman also finishing unbeaten on 99 against South Africa in December.
116no (Alex Hales v SL, 2014)
103no (Dawid Malan v NZ, 2019)
99no (Luke Wright v Afg, 2012)
99no (Dawid Malan v SA, 2020)
99 (Alex Hales v WI, 2012)
Their current opponents India, by contrast, boast seven hundreds including four from the bat of Rohit Sharma and two by KL Rahul.
Roy has top-scored for the tourists in their first two matches in Ahmedabad, 49 in a winning cause followed by 46 in a losing one, but hopes to take his scoring to the next level with three games to go.
His current best sits at 78 but he knows exactly what it takes to go on, scoring four tons in domestic T20s and another nine in England’s all-conquering 50-over side.
“Those forties are great and look good on the scoreboard but for a team to get 180s, 190s and very competitive totals in T20, you need someone to go on and get a big score,” he said ahead of Tuesday’s clash at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
“I’d say it’s been a bit of a stop-start T20 international career for me, really. I haven’t quite got going properly with those big scores, there’s been no hundreds, so that’s my target.
“To score a hundred in the T20 format, you have to be ultra-aggressive. You’re looking at facing a maximum of 60 balls, really: start in sixth gear up to the sixth over, then go down the gears and then back up again. It’s a mixture of aggression and pretty calculated stuff if you want to get those big scores.”
Roy heads into the third match of the series just 15 runs away from reaching 1,000 in the format, and could become the fifth man to do so after Eoin Morgan, Hales, Kevin Pietersen and Jos Buttler.
He has a higher strike-rate than all of those – a bruising 143.79 – and his relentless willingness to take on attacks with high-risk strokes means he often ends up sacrificing himself for the cause before posting a landmark score.
“My mindset is to go out there, get the best possible start for the team and put aside what I might be feeling,” he said.
“My job is to not mess about, really. That’s just the way T20 goes, and you’ve got to… if you live by the sword, you’ve got to be willing to die by it.”
Roy’s recent returns spell good news for England as they plan towards this winter’s T20 World Cup, after he laboured through a lean patch in 2020.
He admitted feeling a certain disconnect with his game during the pandemic but credits a stint in Australia’s Big Bash League with rekindling the spark.
The opener scored 355 runs in 12 matches for runners-up Perth Scorchers, with two half-centuries.
“I never stopped loving the game, but I think the whole year that has just gone – no crowds being around, everything that is going on that is so much bigger than the game – just puts loads of stuff in perspective. Then you add on top of that your own personal work not going quite as well as you want it to and it can get really on top of you,” he said.
“I needed to play in the Big Bash…the moment I got there the first game I had 20 odd people watching me in the nets and I had a sense of an adrenalin rush and belonging again. It was the most incredible feeling. Playing in front of crowds makes you realise that they mean a huge amount to us as sportsmen.”